Minister hails Covid figures, warns of spread over Eid

Updated 26 Jul 2020

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The minister also directed relevant authorities to ensure implementation of safety measures at cattle markets so that the virus would not spread.— AFP/File
The minister also directed relevant authorities to ensure implementation of safety measures at cattle markets so that the virus would not spread.— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: While over 86 per cent of novel coronavirus patients have recovered in Pakistan, federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar on Saturday asked people to follow social distancing and avoid visiting public places during Eid.

While chairing a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) on Covid-19, the minister also directed relevant authorities to ensure implementation of safety measures at cattle markets so that the virus would not spread. In Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad, as many as 527 illegal sale points of animals have been sealed.

Over the past 24 hours, the country reported 1,317 cases and 40 deaths, taking the national tally of cases to 272,807 and death toll to 5,818. Of the 272,807 people infected in the country since the onset of the outbreak, 236,596 have recovered, indicating that active cases have dropped to 30,393.

However, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) expressed concern over the Covid-19 situation and said there were many unreported cases; the situation could worsen with a sharp rise in cases in mid-August.

527 illegal cattle markets in Punjab, KP and Islamabad sealed; PMA voices concern over unreported cases

According to details issued by the NCOC, of over 270,000 cases reported till Saturday, there were fewer than 30,000 active cases across the country.

The federal minister while appreciating the current situation said Eidul Azha should be observed with simplicity so that the deadly virus would not spread. “People should avoid going to public places and ensure social distancing during prayers and gatherings,” he said.

During a briefing, it was informed that a number of violations were being observed in cattle markets across the country due to which a number of cattle markets were closed. The participants also decided that digital technology be utilised to observe violation of health guidelines at shopping plazas, fruit and vegetable markets and cattle markets.

It was informed that 527 illegal sale points of animals had been closed. Of the illegal markets, 269 were in Punjab, 255 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and three in Islamabad.

Meanwhile, PMA Secretary General Dr Qaisar Sajjad said that buyers and traders must follow SOPs at cattle markets.

“Minimum persons should visit a cattle market for buying animals. Everybody present at slaughtering of sacrificial animals should wear a mask and remain at a distance from each other. Remains of animals should be disposed of properly and calcium hydroxide (lime powder) should be sprinkled to clean the place where sacrifice takes place. Do not shake hands or hug. Keep social distance everywhere. Avoid going to bazaar and other crowded places. Contact qualified doctor if symptoms appear like cough, fever, flu, headache, body ache, stomach ache or diarrhoea, loss of appetite, losing sense of smell and taste,” he said.

While expressing concern over the situation, the PMA in a statement expressed fears that the cases would jump two weeks after Eid. It stated that although the severity of the disease had decreased, coronavirus existed and new cases were emerging on a daily basis.

“There are a number of unreported cases, people are quite aware now and they quarantine or isolate themselves at home. We fear that coronavirus cases may increase in the two weeks after Eid,” it stated.

“Learning lessons from the previous Eid, the PMA suggests government should ensure strict implementation of SOPs to control the spread of coronavirus. We warn that the situation of Covid-19 could worsen during our upcoming festivals of Eidul Azha, Independence Day, Muharram and Rabi-ul-Awal if government does not implement SOPs thoroughly. We also request general public to adopt preventive measures, keep social distance, wear mask and regularly wash/sanitise your hands,” it stated.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2020